How to Address Catholic Clergy
Clergy is considered to be the vice-regents that represent Godís will on earth. Thatís why you are supposed to show certain respect when talk to them, especially when you address them.
The rules of addressing to Catholic clergy depend on the type and certain circumstances. Before you read on and learn more about the rules of addressing Catholic clergy, you need to know what types of clergy there are: Deacons, Brothers/Sisters, Priests, Vicars, Monsignors, Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarch, Cardinal, and Pope.
Being polite and following the rules are very important if you don't want to insult a clergymen. Now, when youíve got an idea of the hierarchy, letís find out how to address each of them.
Informal (direct address)
In fact, this is what you use when talk to clergy in everyday life.
- Deacons: Deacon Smith
- Brothers: Brother John; Sisters: Sister Mary Smith/Sister Mary
- Priests: Father Smith/Father
- Vicars: Reverend Smith/Father Smith
- Monsignors: Monsignor/ Monsignor Smith
- Bishops: Your Excellency/Bishop Smith
- Archbishops: Your Grace/Archbishop Smith
- Patriarch: Your Beatitude
- Cardinal: Your Eminence/ Cardinal Smith
- Pope: Your Holiness/Holy Father
Addressing on paper
You will need this is you want to write to a clergyman:
- Deacons: Reverend Deacon John Smith
- Brothers: Brother John, (initials of the name of the organization he belongs to); Sisters: Sister Mary J. Smith of (initials of the name of the organization she belongs to)
- Priests: The Reverend Father John J. Smith, (initials of the name of the organization he belongs to)
- Vicars: The Very Reverend Father Provincial John J. Smith
- Monsignors: The Reverend Monsignor John J. Smith
- Bishops: His Excellency, The Right Reverend Bishop John Smith of (his location)
- Archbishops: His Grace, The Most Reverend Archbishop John J. Smith of (location).
- Patriarch: His Beatitude, the Most Reverend John Joseph Smith, Patriarch of (location)
- Cardinal: His Eminence, John Joseph Smith, Archbishop of (location)
- Pope: The Sovereign Pontiff, His Holiness (name).
As the name suggests, it's all about introducing a clergyman to someone:
- Deacons: The Reverend Deacon John Smith
- Brothers: Brother John of (full name of the organization he belongs to); Sisters: Reverend Sister Mary Smith of (name of the organization)
- Priests: The Reverend Father John Smith of (full name of the organization he belongs to)
- Vicars: The Very Reverend Vicar John Smith
- Monsignors: The Reverend Monsignor John Smith
- Bishops: His Excellency, the Bishop of (location)
- Archbishops: His Beatitude, The Patriarch of (location)
- Patriarch: His Beatitude, The Patriarch of (location)
- Cardinal: His Eminence, Cardinal of (location)
- Pope: His Holiness, the Pope.
- Donít forget to find out the title of the person you are going to talk/write to or introduce. You donít want to address an Archbishop as Brother John Ė itís impolite.
- Donít forget that there are certain peculiarities depending on the location. Thus, the Patriarch of Lisbon should be addressed as Your Eminence instead of Your Beatitude. To learn more, visit catholic.com.
- Avoid familiarity. Thatís totally unacceptable when it comes to clergy.
- Donít confuse Catholic and Orthodox. These two branches have a lot in common, and some people can confuse their outfits and titles.
Due to lots of titles, itís hard for a regular person to memorize all these rules. However, thatís the part of the ancient tradition, and you should respect it when communicate with clergy one way or another. Hopefully, this article will help you avoid misunderstandings and awkward situations in the future.
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